[permaculture] BBC NEWS | Americas | Amazon damage 'worse than feared'

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lfl at intrex.net
Thu Oct 20 22:51:57 EDT 2005

Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 01:24 GMT 02:24 UK
Amazon damage 'worse than feared'
By Simon Watts
BBC News

An area deforested by soybean farmers is seen in Para, Brazil
Illegal logging has devastated large areas of Brazil's Amazon rainforest
Scientists from Brazil and the US say new research suggests 
deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon has been underestimated by at 
least 60%.

The team has completed a study using a more advanced technique of 
satellite imagery that can pick up more types of logging activity.

These include selective logging, where loggers pick out trees of value 
but leave the surrounding forest intact.

Brazil's government welcomed the report but said the figures were 

Nasa's help

Deforestation in the Amazon is on such a massive scale that the only way 
of measuring it is by using satellites.

The trouble has been that while traditional aerial images can show areas 
that have been completely destroyed, they do not reveal selective 
logging of valuable trees such as mahogany.

Map of Amazon River

With input from the Nasa space agency, the joint US and Brazilian team 
used an ultra-high-resolution technique to examine just how much 
selective logging was going on.

They concluded that the area of rainforest destroyed between 1999 and 
2002 was thousands of square kilometres bigger than previously thought.

They also found that about 25% more carbon had been released into the 
atmosphere than estimated - possibly enough to affect climate change.

Brazilian officials praised the scientists for highlighting the issue of 
selective logging, but said the new figures were hard to believe.

The businessmen involved in the practice claim picking out individual 
trees is more environmentally friendly than the blanket clearance of 
huge areas.

But environmental campaigners say that to reach the prized trees, roads 
have to be built and heavy equipment brought in.

This, they say, can be of no benefit to the Amazon.

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